Pletcher Trio, Including Runner up Mindframe, Exit Belmont in Good Order

Mindframe passes the Saratoga grandstand for the first time alongside Dornoch in Saturday's GI Belmont S. | Sarah Andrew


SARATOGA, NY-Sunday morning brought a stark contrast to the previous day, with the skies opening up for several hours over the region. Like many others, the Todd Pletcher squad went out for some light work given the challenging conditions, creating a far more sedate overall atmosphere as opposed to the frenetic activity raging through Saratoga only a day earlier.

In Saturday's GI Belmont S., Pletcher saddled a trio of runners in the Triple Crown's final jewel, with TDN Rising Star Mindframe (Constitution) just falling short by a half-length to winner Dornoch (Good Magic). According to Pletcher, all of his Belmont runners exited the race in good order.

With only two races under his belt, both won by wide margins, the Repole Stable and St Elias Stable representative handled his toughest assignment to date admirably, however, couldn't quite get the job done under Irad Ortiz Jr. when drifting out in the late stages of the 10-furlong Classic. He went off at 5-1 for his stakes debut.

“[His inexperience] was our concern going in that he's lightly raced and he's going up against much more seasoned horses,” said Pletcher. “It looked like when Irad hit him left-handed the first time, it didn't do anything. But the second time is when he drifted out and he lost a little bit of momentum and focus. [Ortiz] had to angle him back in and straighten him out. I think could have been the difference in the outcome.”

Offering a possible explanation for the drifting, he explained, “I don't think he ever felt the crop prior to that. I guess one of the disadvantages of winning so easily in his first couple of starts is that he didn't get a lot of education. They really weren't the experience-building races that some of the others might have had.”

While the result was a bit disappointing, Pletcher said he was pleased with the result overall.

“We're super proud of the race that he ran and the effort that he gave,” he said. “He showed his talent was what we thought it was going in and aside from winning, did remarkably well.”

Pletcher was also represented by Centennial Farms' Antiquarian (Preservationist), winner of the May 11 GIII Peter Pan S. in his most recent race. Accompanied by his regular rider, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, the colt finished fifth at odds of 12-1.

“I thought he got a good trip and Johnny was pleased with the position he got,” Pletcher said. “He was just behind Mindframe and between horses. Johnny said he was handling the kick back really well. When they started to pick up the pace on the far turn, he held his position, but he couldn't really quicken the last part. He just stayed on steadily through the lane.”

He added, “If you go by Beyer figures, he ran a 92 Beyer, which is essentially what he ran in the Peter Pan. We need to find a little more improvement there. He's still a pretty lightly-raced horse and there is room for improvement. He ran a credible race but not quite good enough.”

Rounding out the Pletcher trio was Repole Stable's Protective (Medaglia d'Oro). Sent off at 19-1 under Tyler Gaffalione, the maiden finished third in his two latest races–the GII Wood Memorial in April and the GIII Peter Pan.

“He was angled out in the clear in the stretch and had to alter course when [race favorite and TDN Rising Star] Sierra Leone [Gun Runner] came in in front of him,” said the Hall of Famer, explaining the colt's trouble in the latter stages of the race. “I don't think that cost him a position quite frankly. Like Antiquarian, he was running on evenly in the stretch and put forth a credible effort but needs to improve. Obviously, we have all our conditions available with him. So we'll back up and regroup.”

Pletcher indicated that he will come up with a plan for all three horses in the coming days/weeks.

He also confirmed that Leslie's Rose (Into Mischief), runner up to Thorpedo Anna (Fast Anna) in Friday's GI Acorn S., exited her race well.

The winner of Keeneland's GI Ashland S. in April, the Whisper Hill Farm runner was making her first start since a 13th-place finish in the May 3 GI Kentucky Oaks.

“She ran terrific,” he affirmed. “We were very pleased with her effort. She was second-best on the day but she ran great and seems to have come out of it well.”

Pletcher indicated that the majority of his barn will remain in Saratoga, with a few shipping downstate depending on their upcoming engagements at Aqueduct.

“We're fortunate in that it doesn't change much for us,” he said of this year's changes to the Belmont venue and schedule. “We're stabled here and have been for many years for the spring and summer and even the fall so the entire thing was pretty seamless for us. It might be a little more challenging for trainers that don't already have a stable set up at Saratoga. But for those of us that are, it was pretty easy.”

Looking back at the maiden voyage of the Belmont at Saratoga so far, Pletcher said, “Going in, I thought it was going to be well received and well attended and it was. Saratoga is a remarkable place and people love coming to the races here. There is so much history and tradition here. You'd have to call it a tremendous success at this point.”

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